Thursday, February 5, 2015

Today's Headlines: In which we are told that the secretariat charged with investigating the president's real estate dealings may not be authorized to do so. In fact, the secretariat itself may not even exist.

The only follow-ups to yesterday’s Peña Nieto investigate-me story that get much play appear on the front pages of Reforma and La Jornada.  Reforma’s No. 2 headline — “No compliance with EPN order: no investigation” — looks significant until you read the story.
    It’s based on comments by Virgilio Andrade, whom the president tapped Tuesday to head the Public Function Secretariat (SFP), giving him marching orders to look into the propriety of house purchases by Peña Nieto, his wife and his finance secretary from government contractors. In the Reforma story this morning, Andrade contends that his agency isn’t authorized to investigate private contracts, such as house sales. Hence the headline.
    But he also said he’ll be investigating whether the transactions resulted in favorable treatment of the contractors in subsequent federal projects. That sounds like there is going to be an investigation, and it will look into possible conflicts of interest.

La Jornada goes further, quoting an expert who says the SFP doesn’t exist. The lead front-page head reads: “Marván: SFP in a legal void for investigating Peña.” This comes from an interview with María Marván Laborde, who used to run the IFAI, the federal freedom of information agency.
    The problem seems to be that the watchdog secretariat lapsed into inactivity during the Calderón administration (2006-2012) and stayed that way after Peña Nieto took office. It wasn’t included in the recent reorganization of the executive branch and therefore, according to Marván, is not legally recognized as part of it.
    Again, there’s probably less to the story than the head indicates. The problem can be fixed through regularization, Marván said. There's always the possiblity, though, that this legal glitch could be used as an excuse to drag things out. Secretary Andrade was quoted by Jornada as saying the investigation will take months.

Excelsior leads with more violence by militant teachers, this time in the state of Oaxaca and this time against other teachers. The lead head: “Teachers fight among themselves, hostages taken.”
    Members of the local Section 22, a chapter of the national teachers union (SNTE) that has carried out disruptive protests in Oaxaca regularly for many years, confronted their “adversaries” (Excelsior’s word) from Section 59 holding their separate demonstration outside the local Education Secretariat building. Words were passed. Then fighting — with sticks, fists and kicks — broke out among these members of the profession charged with developing the minds of the nation’s youth. By the time it was over three teachers were injured and one (despite the plural in the headline) was held hostage for hours before being released.
    Teachers of the CNTE, a parallel activist organization to which Section 22 also belongs, have canceled classes for today to stage another mobilization against the already-approved federal education reforms, in favor of a local reform stalled in the state legislature, and in support of the 43 disappeared teachers college students in the neighboring state of Guerrero.

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